Chocolate chip mint was America’s favorite ice cream flavor in 2021, says Reader’s Digest. Not the best-selling (vanilla still takes that sweet spot); the favorite. Similarly, shingles are North America’s most popular roofing material, according to HGTV. The three-tab shingle is America’s vanilla; to step up to chocolate chip mint in a roofing material, you have to go with architectural shingles. 

Choices, Choices

When selecting a shingle for your Sacramento-area home, you have many choices in design, cut, shingle color, and even basic composition:

  1. Asphalt — Sometimes called “organic asphalt,” these are shingles with a layer of recycled felt paper saturated in asphalt before being coated with additional asphalt and embedded with ceramic granules for color and water resistance. This is a heavier, thicker shingle than its fiberglass-asphalt cousin.
  2. Fiberglass-asphalt — A modern mix of Old School asphalt with reinforced fiberglass threads for added strength and durability, this type of shingle is thinner and lighter than organic asphalt shingles.

Both types of shingles can be formed into one of three grades, or price lines, of shingles:

  1. Economical Three-Tab — These are the workhorse of residential roofing. Traditional asphalt shingles with a repeating rectangular shape separated by narrow slits, so each shingle appears to be three separate tabs.
  2. Architectural or Deep-Cut — Also called dimensional or laminated shingles, these combine two layers of shingle construction for an enhanced, deeper look. They provide dramatic shadows and are aesthetically pleasing due to their variations in size and shape.
  3. Luxury — Specialty shingles can mimic other roofing materials (tile, wood shakes) can appear with variations in color within one shingle and are exceptionally long-lasting. These are very high-end shingles.

Three-Tab Versus Architectural Shingles

Leaving aside the tiny niche market for luxury shingles, most Sacramento homeowners will compare three-tab economical shingles with architectural or deep-cut shingles. 

Let’s assume you have already made the wise choice to work with a local, reputable residential roofer. This critical decision matters even more than your shingle selection because a strong roofer can perfectly install a simple three-tab shingle. In contrast, a less reputable roofer can destroy an expensive architectural shingle through shoddy installation. 

Your neighborhood roofer will take the necessary time to install your shingles, plus all the essential components, regardless of the price level of your roof:

  • Sheathing (replaced as needed)
  • Underlayment
  • Water and ice shield
  • Starter shingles
  • Drip edge
  • Flashing around chimneys, pipes, vents, and other roof penetrations
  • Rubber boots for sanitary stacks
  • Field shingles
  • Ridge vents

Most homeowners are unaware of the many components of a complete roof system. The shingle is only one part, though it is the most visible part. You may wish to base your decision — to go for a three-tab shingle or an architectural shingle — on these ordered priorities:

  1. Roof pitch — Steeper pitches (angles) mean more visible roofs; architectural shingles stand out better.
  2. Roof complexity — Dormers, turrets, and multiple gables add visual interest, making architectural shingles more attractive than three-tab shingles.
  3. Architectural style — A ranch, mid-century modern, or split-level home lends itself to the sleek simplicity of a three-tab shingle. In contrast, Victorians, Greek Revival, Cape Cod, and other distinctive styles invite deep-cut shingles.
  4. Sun exposure — A shaded home can do little to emphasize an architectural shingle’s dramatic highlights and shadows.
  5. Budget — This must be your last consideration; you will spend the next 20+ years under your shingle. The per-year cost difference between a three-tab and architectural shingle becomes a minor issue.

Specifically, in the following features, you can immediately see and feel a difference between the two types of shingles:

  • Appearance — Three-tab shingles lie low and flat to your roof, while architectural shingles are meant to stand out, make a statement, and provide dramatic shadows.
  • Cost — The three-tab shingle is the least expensive roofing material to install and has been for decades (though it will not last as long as a more costly architectural shingle).
  • Durability A three-tab shingle roof will typically last 20 years, while architectural shingles will last up to twice as long with conscientious maintenance.
  • Maintenance — Both shingles require the same easy maintenance, which should include annual inspection by your trusted roofer (to include cleaning and minor repairs as needed).
  • Weight — An architectural shingle weighs roughly twice what a three-tab shingle weighs.
  • Warranty — Both styles of shingle are available with strong warranties, though architectural shingles routinely come with 25- or even 50-year warranties.

Your Sacramento-area home has a friend in Straight Line Roofing & Construction. Contact us today to learn more about the range of roofing services we provide, from installing your choice of fiberglass-asphalt shingle to roof repair and more. We do what we say we are going to do. We are proud of our work. From economical three-tab shingles to architectural shingles and even specialty shingles (luxury lines), we are ready to go to work for you.